Thoughts on the Movie

First of all, let me say that I thought this movie followed the plot much more admirably than earlier versions, especially that one made in the 70's where Jean Valjean has a disco haircut. It had some good dialogue and sketched some of the characters well, but I found all of them completely without the emotion that really marks Hugo. The point of the book is not so much about Valjeans journey for salvation from society, but salvation from God. And an error that I find in nearly every version that I've seen is their reluctance to delve into the other subplots and concentrate fully on Valjean's flight from Javert. Equal, if not more, time should be given to convey the full range of feelings at the barricades, where Enjolras should be portrayed as the fearless leader who inspired us all to stand up for our beliefs. They also leave out the whole episode where the Thenardiers trap Valjean and Marius is torn between the love of Cosette and duty to his father. This was my favorite part in the whole book; never have I read something so exciting, and I fail to see why moviemakers glance over this, having the marketing potential that it does. In a word, we must be made to feel Valjean's frustration at society's condemnation, Fantine's utter despair at the loss of her daughter, Cosette's anxiety at the thought of losing her love, Marius' agony of having to choose between his friends and freedom of the state and his love, Javert's shock at seeing his whole life wasted, finally redeeming himself with one noble act, and finally, Valjean's ultimate choice between his happiness and that of Cosette's, tearing away all that has been dear to him in his life. THIS, this whole spectrum of human emotions, which seems to be a spirit struggling in an unyielding world, who continually crawls towards a light he cannot see but somehow knows is there, and who finally learns that the only way to know this light is to give up completely to relentless love for your brothers and sisters, to look evenly upon all the creatures of Earth who are all God's creations, and to never judge, never scorn, a man for what he may have done to another or even to you, but release your heart in a giant flood of compassion and see that there is only one way to treat a man: with mercy. This is Les Miserables; the struggling of man towards God, only to find him through love.

Miscellaneous Errors

When Valjean and Cosette leave the convent and are first experiencing Paris, they show a shot of a building with a brilliant golden dome, which I'm pretty sure is Le Dome d'eglise where Napoleon is buried. This building was built nearly 10 years after the action in the story takes place.

When Valjean emerges from the sewer to find Javert waiting for him, you can see Notre-Dame in the background. At this point the Seine splits into two branches which flow around the island on which Notre-Dame is built. They are standing near the left bank; not only did Javert throw himself off a bridge, he did it on the other branch of the Seine.